DLA forms are long and detailed but when you consider that awards can be worth several thousand pounds a year, it may be the best day's work you ever do.
This section deals with the practical aspects of making a claim for DLA and what to do if you are not successful.
Get a DLA claim form
Start by getting a claim pack soon as possible: DLA cannot be backdated beyond the date you first asked for this. You can:
- Download a claim pack by visiting the goverment’s Gov website
- Request it from the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) DLA helpline on 03457 123456 or text phone on 03457 224433.
- Complete the form online
It’s best to get the form by phoning because then the DWP stamp it with two dates: the first is the date you phoned to ask for it and the other is six weeks later. As long as you send the form back within six weeks, if it’s successful, the claim can start from the first date.
Make sure you are sent the right claim pack. Be clear that you are claiming for a child and not yourself. Tell them your child’s age. The application form you need is DLA1CH. This is different from the claim pack for adults. If your child is nearly 16, expect to fill in an adult claim form (DLA1A).
Get help with filling in a DLA form
DLA forms are long and daunting so it’s well worth asking for some help to fill them in. You could ask a friend or a parent who has a child with similar problems but Amaze can help too. We produce a fact sheet full of Tips for claiming Disability Living Allowance, and more detailed notes of the sorts of things other parents have found useful to include on each of the pages of the claim pack. You can get these by calling our helpline. And if you feel really stuck, we may be able to offer you more individual help. We have a small team of trained DLA volunteers who can come to your house and work alongside you to make a claim. However, many of the volunteers are parents, so this service is limited, especially in school holidays. Find out more about getting one to one support from Amaze with making a claim for DLA.
Many disability organisations offer useful advice about claiming DLA for children and young people with specific chronic illnesses, disabilities or impairments. Their websites can be good places to visit, especially if your child’s needs are just emerging. It can be really hard in the early days to make sense of how a child’s diagnosis might have an impact on everyday life. Try our useful contacts or useful links sections for details of the main disability organisations in the UK.
Get evidence to support your DLA claim
The DWP will also want evidence from other people who know your child. So be prepared. First, check that all professionals whose details you include know you are claiming; the DWP may well contact them. GPs are very often contacted and can find themselves ‘out of the loop’ as your child is referred onto specialist consultants, so it may be worth making an appointment with your doctor to put them in the picture. The DWP will usually contact your child’s school.
- Get a supporting statement from a professional who really knows your child well. Whoever you choose must say how much more care or supervision your child needs and why. It’s not enough just to give a diagnosis, every disability impacts differently on individual children. Remember that this person may have only seen your child in a clinic or school setting. Make sure they aren’t having to guess about how things are at home; ask them to read what you have written, or give them a summary of the main points you need stressed.
- Getting supporting advice for problems at night can be difficult. So keep a ‘sleep’ diary for a week or two. Show it to your GP or your child’s teacher and include it with your claim. It helps if others are able to say that you report broken nights. So if you have asked your GP for help to manage your tiredness or your child’s disturbed nights, or if your child falls asleep or is irritable at school and their teacher can link this to your reports of broken sleep, ask them to include this in their advice. It can support your claim.
- Don’t rely on a professional to fill in their part and send it off, as it’s unlikely to be given a high priority. Ask for it back by a particular date and make an effort to drop it off and pick it up yourself. Don’t trust the post; this is your only copy and you’ve invested a lot of time on it.
- It really helps to send supplementary written evidence that supports what you are saying. Things like medical reports, speech and language assessments, psychological advices and Statements of special educational need are often useful.
- You should keep a photocopy of all the papers so that you have a record of what you have written. Keep the copies in a safe place; you will need to refer to them if you want a decision looked at again and when the claim is reviewed or if the original gets lost in the post.
- Consider returning your claim by special delivery. Doing this is expensive but we think it’s worth the peace of mind. You get a receipt, the claim can be tracked and the DWP has to sign to say they’ve received it. Claims can get lost in the post. If you hand a claim into a Jobcentre Plus, ask for a receipt.
What to do if your claim for DLA is turned down or wrong
If your child’s claim for DLA is turned down, or you don’t get the result you expected, don’t give up. Over 50% of decisions are overturned when you ask another decision maker to look at the claim again and over 70% of appeals are successful.
You can also ask for a review if your child is receiving the benefit at a lower rate and his or her condition alters and they need more help, or if the decision was correct at the time but circumstances have changed. The DWP can look at any part of the award again, even a part you are happy with. So it’s important to seek advice before asking for a decision to be looked at again, just to make the best of this opportunity. You can challenge a non-award, or argue that you feel your child should be entitled to a higher rate of either the care or mobility component, or the length of the award.